Art And Culture

US Dethrones China in Art Auctions

US Dethrones China in Art AuctionsUS Dethrones China in Art Auctions

China has lost its place as the world leader of public auctions of works of art. Fuelled by major sales in New York, the US has overtaken the Asian giant, which is now followed closely by the UK, says a report by Artprice, a global leader in art market information released to AFP.

This is “an unexpected rebound when, year after year, China seemed confident in holding its place at number one,” says Thierry Ehrmann, president and founder of the Artprice database and index firm, the reported.

Boosted by a strong dollar, the American market secured 30% of auction revenue worldwide in the first six months of 2015, with sales reaching $2.8 billion, surpassing China’s $1.9 billion. New York, where the majority of US auctions occur, is now more than ever the place to buy high-end works of art. For example, Christie’s  May 11 sale ‘Looking Forward to the Past’ made a number of records: the highest average hammer price ($18.4 million), the most expensive sculpture sold at auction ($141 million for Alberto Giacometti’s L’homme au doigt) and the most expensive work sold at auction ($179 million for Pablo Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger).

Meanwhile, after a boom of more than 200% growth between 2009 and 2014, China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) saw a major slowdown in the first half of 2015, with the number of lots coming to auction dropping by 39% and revenue down by 30%, according to the figures collected by the public Chinese group Artron, an institutional partner of Artprice. This fall is explained by an overall decrease of economic growth in China, but mainly by the government’s anti-corruption measures that have made buyers more careful, Artprice says.

Furthermore, the gap is shrinking between China and the UK, where auction revenue went up 6% this year on top of 35% growth in 2014. London remains the second-highest city for public art sales worldwide, bringing in $1.9 billion, ahead of Beijing ($600 million), Hong Kong ($448 million) and Paris ($200 million).